Going for Broke -- 1/16/00

It was sizable
Also check out Buddy's story.

After not surfing for all the new millennium due to an ailment, I finally got a chance to get wet. It couldn't have come at a more opportune time. During the week, the surf had been pulsing in regularly from the NNE with some substantial size, and Sunday was looking good for some double-overhead action. Also, my recently damaged longboard was back from the shop and rarin' to go. Out there!

Our whole crew was on it, including: Buddy, Rich, Makani and yours truly. Always mo' fun when da boys are together.

Since the surf was expected to still be big (buoy #1 at 7 ft, 13 sec), everyone was on their big boards. Of course, at 9'0", I had the biggest. :-)

We drove to Laniakea early at dawn but already had to hunt for the final parking spaces in the crowded lot. Guess everyone knows that north swells equal good Lani's. Buddy and I quickly suited up and paddled out, while slowpokes Makani and Rich brought up the rear.

Surf was solid, but not as outrageous as the day before when the boys scored some beeeg stuff. It was more than adequate for my meager wave riding skills. Winds were firm, but conditions were surprisingly good despite the cold sideshores.

The boys got into the mix quickly with Buddy and eventually Rich tackling the outside point. As usual, they pushed themselves into the bomb sets, trying to get past the sectioning middle peak. And of course, they connected it through on more than a few occasions.

Makani played it smart and worked the much more lined up middle peak, using his paddling savvy to manage the busy lineup. He ping-ponged from the middle peak to the outside, checking up on the Williams brothers and me, while catching a few bombs of his own.

As for myself, I started off a bit tentatively, unsure if I could stand firm in size, especially after being off the fiberglass for so long. Took a small first wave to break the ice and slipped off my board and into a faceplant soon after trying to lay it down hard on the rail. The fresh coat of wax from the board repair betrayed me. Not a big deal--sometimes a wipeout can ease the stress, and it did.

Eventually worked my way to the outside with Buddy and Rich, trying to snag the set waves. Caught a few real big ones, including one that I connected all the way through.

Got a bit cocky and took off on an outside set that promptly launched me over the falls. Buddy said that the gallery "ooohed" in unison as I bailed off my board and freefell ten feet into the trough.

Why was I trying so hard? I think I subconsciously created a New Year's surfing resolution to charge harder. If I wanted to get more intense rides, I surmised that I would have to put myself into critical situations first. I was "going for broke." (If you are not familiar with the term, read about The 100th Battalion/442nd RCT.) This mindset was probably what set me up for what was about to transpire.

Found myself outside and deep near Holtons as a set rolled in. As I turned for it, the wave started cresting across the channel. I didn't even hesitate--just threw myself over the edge. I thought I could make it, I really did. But in reality, I didn't stand a chance. On the takeoff, I disconnected from the board, then landed on it halfway down the face. I remember skittering down the rest of the face for quite a while, then penetrating and going weightless as the lip picked me up and threw me and my board over for what seemed like an eternity.

I braced myself for a long hold-down, but was pleasantly surprised when I quickly popped up unscathed and barely even winded. I was all stoked to have gotten off so lightly; that is, until I reeled in my board. It came back with some difficulty because the board was folded in half, bent neatly into a 90 degree angle. Fark!

Couldn't do anything else but paddle in. I tried yelling to the boys to let them know I was alright, but they were out of earshot range. Made the long, paddle to shore, all the while sickly contemplating the loss of my board.

On the beach, I plopped my gear down, and could only watch as the surf seemed to progressively improve. I got so antsy wanting to go out again, that I actually started jogging the beach to release some of my nervous tension.

After talking story a bit to some guys on the beach, I decided that I couldn't take it anymore. I tossed the broken board pieces into the back of Buddy's truck and, despite not having swimfins, jumped in the water to take some water shots of the boys. I figured that if I couldn't handle swimming out there, I had no business surfing in those conditions in the first place.

The moment hit the water, I was immediately swept west by the strong current towards Himalayas. Nervous about my situation? Yes. Panicked? No.

I was way outside when I saw Makani working his way in--way too far for him to hear me. After a long time of swimming and struggling, I eventually worked my way into the lineup. Maintaining a cool head and being patient was the key.

Buddy and Makani had already gone in, but I managed to find Rich. Too bad, but no good waves came in while I was out there. It really wasn't about taking pictures, anyway. It became a personal challenge; it was about wanting to get back into the mix and prove to myself that I could handle.

I eventually swam in after Rich, and found a nervous Buddy and Makani waiting on the beach. They apparently thought the worst when they couldn't find me. Sorry about that, bros.

Surprisingly, I didn't feel too bad about the broken board. I think the damage from the previous session had weakened the board severely (just as my old Aipa board was never the same after a similar mishap). It was only a matter of time.

Anyway, I know that I was charging and pushing my limits. To reap the benefits, sometimes you gotta "go for broke".

More pics:

The damage

Easy packing

Aloha from Paradise,